The term “Au Pair” is a French word which means “on par” or “equal to”, which simply means living on an equal basis in a give and take relationship between the host family and the children. An Au pair is an unmarried young woman or an unmarried young man typically between the ages of 18-26 with basic childcare experience. They are usually from a foreign country that chooses to help look after the children of a host family and provide light housekeeping. An Au pair’s main purpose is mostly for a cultural exchange while also desiring to serve as an integral part of a parenting team. That is why the host family provides them with room and board and is typically paid a weekly “pocket-money” salary. Au pairs generally stay with their host family for one year and they don’t make a career out of childcare work as nannies do.
Many families and Au pairs participate in government authorized Au pair exchange programs where there are defined rules and requirements. But the rules and requirements that govern each party differs depending on what country you’re in. So if you’re planning to gain a different kind of cultural experience by being an Au pair, be sure to know the rules that govern your chosen endeavor.